Emergency Medicine Resident-Driven Point of Care Ultrasound for Suspected Shoulder Dislocation

South Med J. 2019 Dec;112(12):605-609. doi: 10.14423/SMJ.0000000000001046.


Objective: To determine the impact of implementing a musculoskeletal in-service educational intervention for emergency medicine (EM) residents on the use of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) to diagnose and manage shoulder dislocations in the emergency department (ED).

Methods: This study was conducted in the ED of an academic teaching hospital in Miami, Florida. It consisted of a short in-service educational intervention on how to perform and interpret POCUS, followed by an open, prospective convenience sample study in patients with clinical suspicion of shoulder dislocation. Twenty EM residents, with no prior shoulder scanning training, participated in the study. In all of the cases, the findings of the shoulder US were compared with radiographs, which were considered the reference standard. EM residents enrolled patients, and obtained and interpreted the shoulder US images.

Results: Seventy-eight patients were evaluated to rule out shoulder dislocation and/or fracture. Diagnosis of the dislocated shoulder was made in 55 of 78 patients, 53 of whom had anterior dislocations. Resident-driven POCUS had a sensitivity and specificity of 100% to diagnose and rule out, respectively, shoulder dislocations and relocations. There were no differences in the number of dislocations diagnosed and relocated by early and advanced EM residents. Results from a POCUS were available 22 ± 2.8 minutes sooner than x-ray for initial diagnosis and 27 ± 2.9 minutes (P < 0.0001) sooner than x-ray for assessment of reduction.

Conclusions: EM resident physicians, with no previous training in shoulder US imaging, exposed to a brief in-service musculoskeletal education intervention, were able to diagnose shoulder dislocations via POCUS with high sensitivity and specificity. Shoulder US for dislocation should be a core component in EM training.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Shoulder Dislocation / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography